European Parliament Adopts Resolution to Combat Violence Against Women
Wednesday, February 15, 2006 11:15 AM

Recognizing the extent and complexity of violence against women that currently exists within the member states of the EU, the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality released a report in December 2005 calling for a resolution to combat the problem. The Committee notes that the right to life and physical safety is the most fundamental of rights and that governments, through the rule of law, "should be regarded as a tool for the defence of fundamental rights." Violence against women is a violation of the women's right to physical safety, a right the state is obligated to protect. Historically, however, governments have been unwilling to extend their protection into the home, where violence against women primarily takes place.  Only within the last several decades have governments acknowledged that women are entitled to this protection even when it takes place within the family structure in the privacy of the couple's own home. A number of international documents now recognize the woman's right to be free from violence as a fundamental human right. The Committee expresses concern that even after a number of international treaties that recognize the  have been drafted and ratified, there are still women throughout the EU that are subjected to this violence with little or no protection from the state.

The Committee's report notes that violence against women is not just a crime, it is "also a major social problem." Recognizing the serious nature of the crime, including its effect on the economy and the devastating effects it has on children, the Committee called on the Parliament to pass a resolution requiring member states to extend the necessary protection to victims and potential victims of domestic violence.

The European Parliament answered the Committee's call with a resolution on 2 February 2006. The provisional edition of the text calls for action to address currently occurring violence as well as action to prevent the violence. The resolution calls for futher study to determine the full extent of the problem in the EU, including the frequency and type of violence, the economic effect of the violence and the effect of the violence on children. The resolution includes a long list of recommendations for the Commission and for member states, regarding everything from formulation of a zero-tolerance policy to cooperation between member state governments and NGOs to training, education and funding. It sets a minimum standard of protection for women. It calls on Member States to answer the call to protect women's fundamental right to physical safety.

Compiled from:
"Texts adopted by Parliament," European Parliament, (P6_TA-PROV(2006)00382), February 2006; "Report on the current situation in combating violence against women," Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, European Parliament, (A6-0404/2005), 9 December 2005.